A pioneering university that’s passionate about games
Abertay launched the world’s first industry-focused degree in 1997, so it has plenty of experience in teaching development hopefuls. It’s continued to adapt since that time, and now offers a number of courses that cover every corner of the game creation process. And with Dare To Be Digital, the university’s annual student game-making competition, Abertay continues its commitment to games beyond only education.
Dr William Huber explains more. Why is Abertay the right choice? Abertay is completely committed to game education – we host the oldest computer game education programme in Europe, and one of the oldest in the world. We’re a designated centre for excellence in game education, and the only programme in Europe ranked in the top 25 by the Princeton Review. We have courses across all aspects of game design and development, from art to programming to production and audio, and importantly there’s extensive collaboration across the different disciplines of game-making throughout each student’s time here. Do students collaborate across those different disciplines? Students work on teams throughout their time here, and all participate in a major group project during their third year, taking external briefs from industry partners and other sources, and learning how to apply the skills they’ve honed in their first two years while working with students in other programmes and disciplines, including designers, programmers, producers, artists and sound engineers. Our game design programme is in game design and production management, so making teams work effectively is an essential skill. Which tools do you focus on? We have access to the engines, tools, platforms and technologies being used in the industry today. We work closely with industry partners and platform vendors – especially Sony and Microsoft. Significantly, though, we’re not a one-tool shop – students produce games using Unity, CryEngine, Unreal, Source and PhyreEngine, learn a range of programming languages, and develop assets using software from Adobe and Autodesk. They target PC, consoles and mobile. Does it mean students are prepared for all levels of game development? I think that students at Abertay, and in game programmes around the world, understand that their careers may involve moving between very small and very large studios. Five years ago, teaching in another game design programme, I felt like I was facing a dated set of expectations about the trajectory of a games career. Now, students look at those successes which began as small indie studios, like Mojang, Rovio and Project RED. And many who aspire to produce original work in a small studio at some point see the value in working for some time in a larger studio, as a kind of apprenticeship that will give them the perspective – and professional network – which will allow them to be successful if they strike out on their own later. And when they leave you, what do you hope graduates will take away?
“We’ re a designated centre for excellence in game education”
We view game education as being about more than just preparation for a first job – we see it as a new creative and intellectual discipline, a new way of understanding and interacting with the world in which we live. Abertay students learn how to work collaboratively while thinking independently, and they take the vocation of game-making seriously. That’s why our alumni are enthusiastically recruited into studios around the world.
Abertay researcher and lecturer Matt Bett developing tools for virtual production, using Unreal Engine